As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Braindead Leadership

I have really tried to give the Democratic leadership in Congress more credit that most liberal bloggers, but they walked right past a real game-changer on Iraq, and at this point you must question their commitment to end the war. David Obey offered a perfectly reasonable suggestion of a war tax, so that those who want to cheerlead for this war can actually feel the effects of it. No American President has ever cut taxes during wartime, and our burgeoning debt (the limit was just raised again last week) is the nine trillion dollar elephant in the room. A war tax would simply change the conversation in Washington, and put more pressure on those who want an endless occupation of Iraq to explain to their constituents why they have to keep paying through the nose for it. Distributing the costs of war is one way to end it. In addition, Obey raised the possibility of blocking funding in the Appropriations Committee if his ideas aren't in the new supplemental bill.

So within hours, the Democratic leadership was throwing cold water all over the idea, which has been proposed by none other than Joe Lieberman in the past, and got mad at Obey for freelancing.

The Hill reports that some House leaders are cool to the war tax idea, adding some in the leadership were angry with Obey's timing. They said Obey screwed up by pushing forward an idea where there's disagreement on a day when Dems were looking to score a big political hit on Bush over his veto of SHIP, the kids' health care proposal [...]

I'm told, however, that there's a bit more to these tensions than meet the eye. House insiders say they think that this anonymous dumping on Obey came from the office of House Dem leader Steny Hoyer.

Hoyer is a big proponent of the new House Iraq bill being sponsored by Dem Rep. Neil Abercrombie that was voted on yesterday and passed overwhelmingly. Because this measure lacks a binding withdrawal timetable, others in leadership -- like Pelosi -- are cool to the idea, insiders point out. Hoyer cared more about Abercrombie than the other leaders did, leading his office to get irked by Obey's distraction.

"The dumping on Obey likely came from Hoyer, who was much more enthusiastic about the moderate -- read: toothless -- Ambercrombie legislation than the rest of leadership is," a House insider tells me.

In other words, the fault lines here are at bottom over Iraq -- Hoyer likes Abercrombie more than the rest of leadership, and is also less inclined than the rest of leadership to pursue a funding fight of the sort favored by Obey. "Hoyer genuinely thought Abercrombie was a good thing and Obey distracted from it, plus Hoyer is scared of funding fight," the House insider said.

Really, is there anyone more useless than Steny Hoyer? He was so interested in a toothless, useless bill - the Abercrombie bill requires the President to write a report on a withdrawal plan, literally like 5th-grade homework instead of a change in policy - that he angrily denounced a member of his own party that is finally understanding that the only way to change policy in Iraq is by blocking something instead of passing something. Hoyer doesn't want to end the war and doesn't want to fight the establishment. He's a mealy-mouthed, cautious denizen of Status Quo-ville who believes the hype that anbything about national security is a positive for Republicans. That's not only wrong, but the resultant inaction is killing the party.

The Hoyer-Murtha battle for Majority Leader may have been the final nail in the antiwar coffin. Instead of a leader in that position we have a follower, a useless hunk of flesh without any long-term understanding of the party's goals. Obey was finally coming around to the right idea and he gets slapped. Unbelievable.

I don't even totally agree with the war tax idea (not under this President, I don't want to funnel him more money he can use on imperial adventures), but clearly it would have changed the conversation. Instead we're stuck at square one.

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